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How would virtual reality devices really work?

  1. Apr 18, 2016 #1
    I have thought about virtual reality headsets and other futuristic devices for a month now, but now I it has peaked my interest enough to ask about it on the forum. My idea for a safe virtual reality headset would be a device that is able to use a method similar to that of dreams. I thought of the problems that can incur, but such issues will have to be addressed before the VR headset is released to the public. The most challenging issues are creating sensory features and taking away the random element in the "dream". I would like to see if anyone could tell me some ways to find out what issues may occur, as well as if anyone could help me with seeing if it is possible.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 19, 2016 #2


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    What is the method of dreams?
  4. Apr 19, 2016 #3
    'The Matrix' is science fiction. (Quite entertaining fiction though)
  5. Apr 20, 2016 #4
    I am not referring to any "Matrix" methods.
    The device would put you in a REM state that will be similar to a lucid dream with extreme control. Now the real problem is to induce visual images and areas into the subconscious mind so that the person using the device will see the correct images and areas while in the "dream" state.
  6. Apr 20, 2016 #5


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    You didn't really answer my question. I'll restate: As far as I'm aware, we don't really know how dreams work, much less how to interface a computer with the human brain to generate them. This sounds like wildly speculative fantasy to me (it's "Inception", not "The Matrix"). Am I incorrect?
  7. Apr 20, 2016 #6
    You question was rather vague so I didn't know how to exactly answer, I thought you were asking what I meant.
    We do know that under the right conditions lucid dreams can happen and that deep dreams give off different brain activity than normal rest.
    It's not like the device can be made with today's knowledge of dreams, that's why it is going to take awhile to monitor the brains activity in all situations one can test. Whether you are wrong or right with your statements is not for me to decide, you may be perfectly correct and I'm chasing after an impossible invention, but you may be equally wrong.
  8. May 18, 2016 #7
    I'm not exactly sure what your question or proposal is or that you even know what it is, but I'll try to abstract from your initial post. I actually remember wearing a VR headset back in the 80's at a game arcade. Remember these? They basically worked the same as the Oculus Rift, etc. headsets of today. You were basically in a little boxing ring at the arcade. If you walked forward, it was simulated in the headset. If you moved your head it was simulated too. It even simulated crouching down and standing up. Pretty cool!

    The only limitation were some pretty cheap graphics. It was basically "Money for nothing type graphics:"

    But we didn't know any better or really care. It was just really cool. I'm surprised nothing really built upon that experience until recently. But that's also how I felt about the internet. It seemed to me in 1984 that a "critical mass" internet-type of communication between computers was a just a few years away. It actually took about 20 years, but it eventually came. I think we're seeing the same thing with VR now. I'm a big time VR/3D buff. I was a part of the underground community since the late 90's experimenting with different ways to get some 3D action out of your desktop and CRT. eDimensional was popular at the time and had a cheap shutterglass solution which I still use to this day on my desktop. Never felt the need to buy in to Nvidia's pricey package.

    In the early 2000's there were a number of programs on the web developed by hobbyist programmers where you could, say, convert a 2D .jpg into a 3D one. Pretty cool. Video was much more difficult, although you could convert short clips with some time and effort, essentially by doing it one frame at a time.

    A big change came about 2005-6 when Tri-def released their 2D to 3D conversion media player. Before this, there had been a few cheap imitators that basically used a hokey algorithm whereby they simply delayed one L-R frame against the other by a fraction of a second in order to achieve a perceived sense of 3D. But these players were headache inducing and the 3D effect was grossly inconsistent. Tri-def's software was of a whole different kind and produced a consistent 3D effect. In fact, I think tri-def's software or something similar is used in many of the 3D TV's on the market today. I have a 40 inch Samsung 3D TV and the quality and format of the 3D looks very similar to my tri-def desktop player.

    Speaking of which, I think I purchased a licence for the tri-def player in late 2005 or early 2006. Back then, it cost...wait for it...$275 for a license to use the player. And I paid it because it was that innovative at the time. Today you can get it for $50, and you can get for free as an android app for your smartphone. As an aside, I built my first core-2 duo desktop at about the same time and paid an equivalent $275 for 2 gigs of ddr-2 ram. Remember those days? On my new build, I think I spent about $40 for 8 gigs of ddr-3 ram.

    In any case, I feel the money was well spent. I was was watching 3D videos and movies years before it became commercialized. Plus, I still get updates from tri-def from that initial purchase.

    That said, we're seeing another big change/advance now with the oculus rift and the gearVR. I think this is extremely cool. The question is whether this is going to "fad out" like the 3D TV thing seemed to do. Is it just going to be a novelty or a movement? There's a 360 video community on youtube I'm trying to keep up with. To do 360, you need to purchase a special camera. I'm hoping the momentum keeps up and we see a movement here. It's amazing the immersive effect you can get from a smartphone and google cardboard headset.

    So this is a roundabout way of getting to your question. In my opinion, today's VR is immersive enough that it essentially qualifies as a lucid dream. I've had many lucid dreams and there is a qualitative comparison. The main difference is that you can get a tactile sensation in a lucid dream that you can't (yet) get with VR, but that may simply be a technical issue that can be worked out, and that I'm sure some people are working on.

    I guess my take-home point here is that I don't think any special focus here on your concept of a "dream" headset is necessary, I think the organic development of the science of VR will achieve that de-facto.
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